Congrats! You’re the owner of a new time machine. The catch? It comes in two models, each traveling one way only: the past OR the future. Which do you choose, and why?
I am writing about today’s WP Daily Prompt theme, even though I don’t like this binary expression ‘one-way street’. I equally don’t like to choose between the past or the future. Why am I doing that?
What intrigued me to continue was exactly that; it would be a new experience to write about something that is not naturally of my choosing and liking. It felt like I needed a little challenge.
I have a strong hint that what brought me here was my default annoyance with preconceived thinking. It is common knowledge that some of us tend to hang on to the experiences of the past when avoiding to take decisions and risks now. Conversely, some of us will not fully enjoy present moments, waiting for better ones, as future opportunities.
And that is why a whole line of people preach that we should live in the ‘now’, as opposed to focusing solely on the past or future.
Easily said, right? Now try to make a choice when your brain – which knows better and can control your unconscious actions – kept those deep memories of bad experiences and reacted automatically, protecting us from the simple possibility of going through them again.
I will tell you where I am coming from and where I am going.
I was having a 1,5 hours of Yin yoga class, when something odd happened. (Yin Yoga is not the dynamic and muscular (yang) style of yoga but a very relaxing practice; we stay in the postures anywhere from one to eight minutes!).
We reached the last moment where we simply lay on the mat and relax for a few minutes on a pose called savasana. The background music was from heaven, as well as the instructor’s voice, taking us through a guided body scan, while of course reinforcing the need to focus on our breathing, as an anchor to be here and now.
Then, a mobile phone started ringing loudly. Nobody reacted for a few seconds, but as the phone kept ringing, and we could notice that it was the sound of an alarm, the owner of that noisy thing didn’t dare to come clean and stop it.
The instructor cleverly used that noise, as a metaphor of the daily crowds and noise we immerse ourselves in, cope with – while learning to live with it – without letting us be engulfed or disturbed by it… by simply focusing on the present, on the now.
Her advice worked for a nanosecond; I was seriously trying not to regard the noise as an irritating and disturbing factor, but that thing didn’t stop. This whole thing took place in less than a minute but it felt like an eternity.
I lost my concentration and opened my eyes. And that’s when I saw an angry woman beside me looking for the origin of that noise; she stood up and reached a bag at the back of the room, walked to the front row and visibly irritated, asked for the owner of the bag.
In complete disbelief, we saw a woman opening her eyes very calmly, as if she was just landing from a trip to heaven, totally relaxed, saying: ‘How interesting! This is indeed my bag, but I have disconnected my telephone! I wonder how my alarm could have been ringing!’
Before a war started between the two women, the instructor took over and finalized the class with a gentle reminder on bags and phones being off-limits inside the classroom and continued the guided body scan. The whole talk about how we react to the past, present and future, at that moment was pointless, and nobody could relax anymore.
So, what am I going to choose if I have this time machine, and why?
I will pass this one. I may not want to go back nor forward, and try my best to focus on the now, but all of them are part of life, and I can’t artificially force my mind to cut any of them from my memory.
Just like in the yoga class, there will always be something or some unplanned situation, just there, staring at our faces, testing the strength of our past convictions or dreams for the future, and finally asking: are you ready to live with what you have to deal with, no matter what?